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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Multi-Generational Housing? Retirement?

I guess I never told you that we were going to Florida. Well, we're back, and Miss Em is off to her next adventure.

I'm in the waning days of my vacation, and love nothing more than curling up with a good book. FROM THE LIBRARY. Everyone knows that is a key part of Frugality 101: use the library.

One book I'm reading and loving is this.

Yes, I am thinking about multi-generational housing.

Every few days, it seems, there is some article on the increase in multi-generational housing brought on by the financial meltdown, We hear of college grads or young adults moving in with parents; parents moving in with kids; the middle-aged moving in with even older parents; or the same older parents moving in with their middle-aged kids. This is always presented as some dire necessity,* to be escaped from ASAP.

The parents of the baby boomers are especially horrified at the prospect. My mother--aged 81--was talking about assisted living, and I suggested she move in with us if she needed extra care. She said, "That is the cruelest thing anyone has ever said to me." I didn't mean it that way! I thought I was nice.

Anyway, the dire articles always have zillions of comments, most, like my mother, horrified. Then there are those, mostly of Asian descent, who say: That's how we do it! Some point out that college grads who do that can save up for a house. The elderly can hang with their grandchildren and children. Multi-generational housing is presented as positive--something that can be pro-active, rather than simple re-active to economic or other emergency.

That last has been especially on my mind. Instead of a few intense (and not always in a good way) visits to relatives, wouldn't it be nice to have a more low-key relationship--every now and again, for a short time?

The book pictured above shows many ingenious transformations of houses (and not Mcmansions) to accommodate more than one family, with opportunities for togetherness and lots of privacy. I've already figured out how my 2000 square foot house with small back building could accommodate not one, but two families in addition to Mr FS and me.

Food for thought. What do you think of the issue of multi-generational housing?

*After writing dire necessity, I knew it was from somewhere. It is: Milton's Samson Agonistes. This tells of Samson's death, when he pulls the walls of the temple down, killing the Philistines and himself.

O dearly-bought revenge, yet glorious!
Living or dying thou hast fulfill'd
The work for which thou wast foretold
To Israel, and now ly'st victorious
Among thy slain self-kill'd
Not willingly, but tangl'd in the fold
Of dire necessity


Jane W. said...

I think multigenernational housing offers so much potential to heal what ails modern society--ageism, isolation, unrealistic expecations of standard of living/space. That said, I think my inlaws (who are 10 minutes away) would drive me nuts.

Shelley said...

Your Amazon link isn't to a book, but to some sort of advert. Amazon has changed their gismos, and I spent enough of my remaining time on earth figure it out the first time. They don't get a second chance.

I think that if I couldn't live in my own home I would want space for a few pieces of my grandparents' furniture, a good sized book case, my own coffee making facilities and my own bathroom; also a TV/VCR and of course WIFI and computer. A fireplace would also be lovely, but that's pushing the boundaries, I'm sure. I would want the choice of joining in at meals or of making my own and eating in my room. I would want my space to be just as separate as if it were a rented apartment and thus ensure my privacy. People could ring to see if I were available to visit. The main thing I envy the people at Downton Abbey is the footman who says whether or not one is 'at home'. Without these assurances, I think I could see your Mom's point - giving up one's own home to live with too much intimacy could feel a bit cruel.

What advice does your book give?

Shelley said...

I forgot...I came over here to say that I re-watched the film, The Queen (with Helen Mirren) and I thought of you. I'm guessing that most of the scarves she wore - in the old fashioned way - were Hermes. There were quite a few different ones, something I'd not noticed the first couple of times I saw the film. You might enjoy seeing that if you haven't already.

Frugal Scholar said...

@JAne--So lucky to have them so close!
@Shelley--Mine was ok and then morphed intop the ad--I fixed it. I HOPE. i wish you could see that book--each project involved different needs and solutions, with varying degrees of privacy. As for my mother--it was a very self-dramatizing moment, trust me! And as for the movie--I remember how she blew her nose on a scarf!

Duchesse said...

There are various modes of i/g housing. The generations do not have to live cheek by jowl.

My 78 year old brother lives in Oregon. He and my SIL have a large ranch. One daughter, her husband and their child live with themin the house. Another son (with his family) has built a home on the property.

Everyone really enjoys the arrangement.

The attitudes of those in their 80s now (like your mother) are different from those now in their 50s and 60s. Many boomers dabbled in communal housing, and if their savings have been hit hard, may not be as adverse to sharing space with their children as seniors who- though they may recall the Depression- enjoyed an era of unprecedented prosperity thereafter.

FB @ said...

My parents would love to live with us. My mom would just need her own space however.. she does like it when I come back and stay for 2-3 weeks.

I like the idea of one reader suggesting that we live in one apartment and the parents are in the same building or something similar :)

Northmoon said...

I'm with Jane W. - think it's kind of sad how little time different generations spend with each other these days.

Sharing a house can work out very well, depending on the personalities of the parties involved. My brother and his wife live with her 80 something year old mother. Although the house is not large, Mum has two rooms of her own over the garage. It's worked out very well for them both socially and financially. They are all good natured and try to help each other out everyday.

Anonymous said...

We currently have three generations under our roof. My oldest daughter (age 31) and her 6 year old son. It has been advantageous to all. She is going to school and working. The grandson has several "parents" and we receive some liveliness in our former empty nest. I know my mother though would be very reluctant to buddy up as she highly values her independence.

Duchesse said...

There is independence (so often cited as "the reason I could not live with my children") but there is also this state we North Americans seem to ignore, *interdependence*. An elder might do a few loads of laundry for a working daughter, or a teenager might drive the elder to the hairdresser's. It's not usually a matter of "dependence" or "being a burden", at least till the late stages of aging.

Another increasingly critical issue is getting good home care (or institutional care if needed), to relieve exhausted family members when an elder needs round the clock care.

The Gold Digger said...

Oh Lord. If my husband's parents moved in with us, I would move out.

I agree with you on the library. I must be one of the top users of my branch. I have started volunteering there once a week because I feel a wee bit guilty for getting so much more out of it than I contribute in taxes.

Frugal Scholar said...

@GD-Thanks for all the comments. I see--from your blog--why you couldn't live with your in-laws. I'm thinking more of adjacent living, btw.